Lurie’s Blog Post 2

Conversations around sexual health are vital in order for youth to be empowered to make informed decisions throughout their adolescence and into adulthood.  For many parents and supportive adults stigma and personal discomfort with the subject can make it challenging for them to begin these essential conversations.   The Potocsnak Family for Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine in collaboration with Pedersen Family Learning Center & Health Sciences Library has created a video series called NeverFearTalks to help parents and caregivers destigmatize sexual health topics and communicate in meaningful and effective ways.  

The realities of the COVID-19 pandemic have prompted us to re-imagine our project to fit a virtual platform while maintaining the authenticity and impact we had originally envisioned would take place during in-person education sessions. To that end, we’ve gotten creative. We will be doing at least nine virtual education sessions, and will connect with organizations in each of the project’s original target areas (Rogers Park, Edgewater, Uptown, Austin, West Englewood, and Humboldt Park).  We will work with these community organizations to engage youth, parents, and supportive adults in new online platforms. Our videos and curriculum which will highlight NLM resources and information will be paired with trivia questions on HIV/AIDS and PrEP with the goal of making this programming both informative and engaging. We will also be providing virtual gift cards and “door” prizes to increase attendance and engagement in the sessions. 

We are not the only ones who have had to adapt our programs or service delivery during this challenging time.  Working with community organizations is a demonstration of our commitment to  increasing knowledge around the services provided by partner agencies within their communities and highlight their virtual and socially distanced support systems. This type of collaboration allows for cross promotion between community partner services and ours. Our project team will also reach out local political leaders, including neighborhood alderpeople, who are reaching many of their constituents via regularly scheduled virtual Town Halls.  We are beginning to explore whether this project may be able to partner with some of this already existing online programming to increase access and reach more people from across Chicago.   

These efforts are a significant change from our original plans, but we welcome the opportunity to creatively meet the needs of youth and families and remain committed to keeping everyone safe during these hard times and slowing the spread of COVID-19. 

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